In theaters Dec. 28
Up close and personal, Dee Rees's lovely coming-of-age drama Pariah takes us deep inside the world of 17-year-old black lesbian Alike (Adepero Oduye). She tags along to a gay bar with her butch, experienced friend, then dutifully and joylessly ditches her baseball cap and puts on earrings on the way home, where she faces a stern, shrill mother and a loving but philandering father. Rees's accomplished first feature flirts with the generic in the family scenes-they feel a bit movie-ish-but there's nothing ordinary about the luminous Oduye's performance. She takes us on Alike's emotional roller coaster, from hope to heartbreak, panic to pride, without a false step. Like the best screen actors, she tricks us into believing she's not acting at all.